Episode three of Hell’s Paradise premiered this past weekend and it really proved that this is where things start getting real for the Asaemon and the condemned. “Weakness and Strength” sets up a new dynamic now that the cast is officially on the island: kill and survive or be left behind. This is made clear when we see that several condemned and even Asesmon are killed by each other – an indication that killing the others off to increase their own chances is an idea coming to fruition among all of the expedition.
The first thing we see when arriving at the island is how vibrant the foliage is. Gabimaru demonstrates his observation skills by realizing how unnatural for so many flowers to be blooming at the same time and in the same climate when they normally would not. This is the first sign that things are not what they seem now that the expedition has reached the island. We already knew that there was something off about the island when people returned covered in flowers, but with this addition, it is confirmed that this island is indeed dangerous and otherworldly. We’re left to question what part of the island is harmful and what will bring ruin to the main characters because they’re focused on ruining themselves.
While episodes one and two focused on telling Gabimaru and Sagiri’s history separately, “Weakness and Strength” focused on the two of them together. Sagiri abides by the rule of keeping Gabimaru’s hands bound despite other Asaemon untying their own criminal. This is the real initial tension between the lead characters -how little trust there is between them despite needing to be partners for the time being. Sagiri plays by the rules given to them and even when another criminal challenges Gabimaru to a fight, she insists on him tying his hands together. Gabimaru abides by her request and it’s a keen insight to the power dynamic within their partnership.
However, after proving that being bound isn’t that much of a deterrent, Gabimaru decides to challenge that power dynamic. While clashing blades, Gabimaru struggles with killing Sagiri off as he battles with himself and Sagiri is equally resistant to landing a killing strike. Gabimaru considers the changes he has gone through since marrying his wife and while he considers them weak, Sagiri makes it clear that it’s quite the opposite. The change from being hollow to having emotions and carrying for his wife isn’t something that should be considered weak, but strength instead. In fact, Sagiri also seems very interested in seeing just how changed Gabimaru is. One could even say being a total wife guy isn’t a bad thing in the slightest.
The final moments of “Weakness and Strength” is when the true horrors of the island are introduced. There are butterflies with human faces that sting and turn body parts into flowers, centipedes with fingers for faces and pincers, and giant monsters with legs instead of eyes that wield shakujōs. Juxtaposed against the flowers that decorate the environment, both the characters and watchers ask themselves what exactly it is that they’ve gotten themselves into. The reveal of massive monsters at the end of the episode is a great cliffhanger for such an exciting third episode.
“Weakness and Strength” continues to give anime watchers exactly what they want from Hell’s Paradise. This episode’s combination of violence, storytelling, and unnatural vibrancy within the island to really showcase what we’re about to get into. I mentioned it last week as well, but the anime adaptation is doing a fantastic job of bringing the manga to life with the same intent and flair that Yuji Kaku originally brought when he created it.
Hell’s Paradise airs Saturdays on Crunchyroll during the Spring 2023 anime season.
Featured image ©YUJI SHAKA/SHUEISHA, TWIN ENGINE, MAPPA
‘Hell’s Paradise’ - “Weakness and Strength” - 10/10